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Assembling a Truly International IPA Recipe

Posted by homebrewdad on 1/16/2015 at 12:04:05 PM

Back in July, a friend of mine in Vermont dropped me an email to see if I would be interested in some yeast he had picked up - ECY29, aka the sometimes hard to find "Conan" strain, which is used in the famous Heady Topper IPA. He had picked it up on a whim while at his LHBS, and really did not intend to use it. I enthusiastically accepted, and ended up giving away three vials of it in a contest here on the site.

One of my contest winners (Ryan) was kind enough to ship me two bottles of beer he had brewed - the same recipe in both beers, save one used WLP004 (Irish ale), and the other used the ECY29 he had won. The difference was striking, with the Conan version indeed manifesting a big, delicious, juicy peach aroma.

All along, I had also planned to brew my own beer with the yeast (and send a couple of bottles to the guy who was great enough to hook me up in the first place). Conan is supposed to really accent hop character, and that unique peach aroma was very interesting. So, I started thinking about brewing an IPA with huge aroma, but I wanted to do something a bit different than the typical beers I had sampled.

Having had great success with my Oakenbranch IPA (an English beer with spicy hops), I wanted to use that as a template, but to instead emphasize the fruitiness as opposed to the spiciness. I wanted to keep the bitterness at a low to moderate level, but really push the envelope on hop flavor - and, especially, aroma. In search of some less commonly used hops, I came across my first reall candidate (thanks, reddit!) - Motueka, a New Zealand hop known for citrusy character.

But what to pair with it? Citra gets a lot of love (and is an amazing hop), but Citra is so popular right now. Galaxy? I certainly wouldn't go wrong with it, but again, Galaxy is pretty common these days. Amarillo? Again, lots of love, but Amarillo is pretty ubiquitous. And on I went, until another brewing friend turned me on to El Dorado - a hugely fruity hop known for an almost candy-like sweet quality. I was sold.

Well, life (and other brewing commitments, such as my company event and my Christmas beer) got in the way, and my Conan IPA found itself pushed back a few times. Finally, though, I returned my focus to this beer and started putting together an actual recipe.

I very strongly considered taking the grain bill from my Oakenbranch almost exactly as it sat (minus the rye), but discussion with the Homebrew Dad brewers got me to rethink that a bit - a common thought was that the caramel flavors from the Oakenbranch grains would pair well with spiciness, but perhaps not so much with fruitiness.

While I didn't want to go with plain old 2 row (no offense to this beloved standby, I just like my base grain to be more interesting) I did end up giving up my beloved Maris Otter in favor of Golden Promise (which, to be fair, is a base grain I have wanted to try for some time). I decided to really lower my crystal content, and instead use honey malt (another new ingredient for me). I did include a pound of Vienna for the increased malty character, which I personally feel really balances things out nicely.

As the recipe started to come together, I noticed something that I found to be interesting - this beer was truly shaping up to be an international brew (at least, judging by the ingredient list).

This grew even more true when I found myself going down another rabbit hole in a discussion about adding sugar when dry hopping; one of the Homebrew Dad brewers suggested jaggery (an unprocessed Indian sugar made from palm trees), which leads to some interesting residual flavors - and my imagination was captured. I wasn't able to source jaggery, but I did end up with pure palm sugar from Thailand (which is also unprocessed, though supposedly a bit milder in flavor).

The more I thought about this "international brew", the more it resonated with me. Forgive my corniness, but it occurs to me that we are truly living in the golden age of brewing right now.

Historically, brewers were very much limited to the ingredients that they could locally source. By necessity, this gave rise to the tapestry of styles that we currently enjoy, so in hindsight, this is a wonderful thing for the modern beer drinker.

I'm a big fan of authentic brewing; if I'm doing a German lager, I try to use all German ingredients, I subject myself to decoction mashing, etc. If brewing an English ale, I try to use all English ingredients and the like. There is a growing movement for brewers to get back to their roots and try to locally source ingredients as much as they possibly can, and I really respect this on an intellectual level.

With all of that being said, it occurs to me that this beer I am brewing would have literally been impossible had I been born in another time. My ingredients come from seven different countries and at least four American states.

IngedientCountry of Origin
Golden PromiseScotland Scotland
Vienna MaltGermany Germany
Honey MaltCanada Canada
Crystal 60L (Crisp)England England
Flaked BarleyUnited States United States (Midwest?)
Palm SugarThailand Thailand
El Dorado HopsUnited States United States (Washington State)
Motueka HopsNew Zealand New Zealand
ECY29 (Conan) YeastUnited States United States (Vermont)
WaterUnited States United States (Alabama)

I'm not entirely sure why, but that just strikes me as cool.

Congratulations, you might say, you have put together a veritable United Nations of a beer. But how does it taste? Does it have the intended aroma, or is this just one big cloying, muddled mess?

You'll have to check back in a couple of weeks. Fermentation is done, dry hopping is done; the beer is cold crashing now (I added gelatin for clarity yesterday). I plan to bottle this one up tomorrow, and crack the first one in two weeks. Until then... well, fingers are crossed!

Wandering Barbarian IPA

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Batch Size (gallons)6
Recipe typeAll Grain
Style14B. American IPA
Original Gravity1.071
Final Gravity1.011
ABV7.88% (basic)   /   7.9% (advanced)       [what's this?]
Color9.5 SRM
Boil Time60 min

YeastEast Coast Yeast ECY29 (North East Ale)

Pale Malt, Golden Promise12 lbs78.4%2.5
Vienna Malt1 lb6.5%3.5
Honey Malt 12 oz4.9%25
Caramel/Crystal Malt - 60L 12 oz4.9%60
Sugar, Palm 9 oz3.7%4
Barley, Flaked 4 oz1.6%1.7

El Dorado (First Wort).5 oz6015%21.6
El Dorado (Boil).5 oz1015%7.1
Motueka (Boil).5 oz107%3.1
El Dorado (Steep/whirlpool)1 oz2015%11.9
Motueka (Steep/whirlpool)1 oz207%5.2
El Dorado (Dry Hop)1.5 oz515%0
Motueka (Dry Hop)1.5 oz57%0
El Dorado (Dry Hop)1.5 oz315%0
Motueka (Dry Hop)1.5 oz37%0

for complete recipe (with details like mash and fermentation temps), click here

Tags for this post: international, beer, brewing, homebrewing, IPA, Conan, ECY29, recipe

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